As of 2017, more than 1,000 substance-dependent children were born in Scotland

Figures show that more than 1,100 substance-dependent children have been born in Scotland since 2017.

This has prompted the Scottish Liberal Democrats to invest in supporting children with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

NAS occurs when children show signs of addiction, due to the mother’s use of legal or illegal substances during pregnancy.

Symptoms of NAS, which are often the result of maternal-to-fetal blood transfer during pregnancy, include tremors, blotchy skin, and hyperactivity,

The Scottish Liberal Democrats obtained the figures from a Freedom of Information request which showed that 1,123 babies had been born with the condition in Scotland in the last five years, bringing the total to 147 such births in 2022/2023 so far.

This is down from 209 the year before, while 161 were recorded in 2020/2021, 164 in 2019/20, 199 in 2018/19 and 243 in 2017/18.

NHS Lothian recorded around 609 NAS cases, followed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with 183 and NHS Grampian with 156.

More action needs to be taken by ministers, party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, who adds that a report by the Scottish Drug Death Taskforce found funding to be “woefully inadequate” in the area.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “These numbers are absolutely heartbreaking. Perhaps there is no worse possible start in life for a newborn.

“[Last] Last year, independent experts described current government funding for drugs and alcohol as woefully inadequate for this level of public emergency.

“Years of underfunding have forced sensitive local facilities to close their doors and lose key expertise.

“Nicola Sturgeon admitted that her government was not paying attention while the situation in Scotland became many times worse than anywhere else in Europe.

“The time has come for radical action, not only to help people struggling with drug abuse today, but also for future generations.

“This means investing in local services that are best placed to intervene to stop the loss of life and start a new life dependent on the substance.

“Drug abuse should always be treated as a health problem, not a criminal justice issue. Anything else will contaminate many more children to be born under these terrible circumstances.”

The Scottish government has committed £250m to support its national drug abuse programme, which will be spent on increasing and improving access to treatment and recovery services.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “No newborn should be addicted to substances and we are increasing investment in local services and providing support to women and families as part of our national mission to tackle drug-induced death suddenly.

“We fund a national specialist family service run by the Phoenix Futures charity and housing association in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire to support single parents or couples with children.

“The service, which opened in November, will also support women during pregnancy and motherhood.

“We are also committed to preventing the harm caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy, for which there is no safe level, and to supporting those affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.”

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